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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Friday, September 10, 2010
1019: Sex, Money, Division of Labour
Some things are so delicate and difficult to express, that I can write twenty posts that never see the light of day. If you are reading this it is not because I have found some way to express what I mean to say correctly, but more likely that I became so annoyed with writing the same thing ten different ways, that I gave up trying to satisfy my inner critic and just posted it, letting the cards fall where they may.

The three greatest points of contention in any marriage are, in no particular order, Division of Labor (who does what in the marriage), The frequency and/or quality of physical intimacy, and how resources are spent.

All three points have this in common: The depend on carnal living for their provocation.

If both husband and wife are walking in the Spirit, there will be no disagreement about how to spend the money, who does the work or what their intimacy ought to look like. There will be harmony across the board.

If only one spouse is walking in the Spirit, there may be disagreement in one or more area, but the marriage will continue in strength.

If neither spouse is walking in the Spirit, there will be agreement only insofar as one or both are willing to compromise their own selfish desires.

I wrote this post to give some practical encouragement to couples. First I wanted to show how carnality can, at the very least, rob a marriage of joy (and even destroy it if left unchecked). I also wanted to show that walking in the Spirit will, at the very least, improve a marriage, and at best, provide the strength, joy, fulfillment, and contentment that God intends every son and daughter of His to enjoy.

Money (and resources in general)
Call it the flesh, the old man, the old self, the fallen nature, or whatever - the part of us that will not be redeemed, and is responsible for churning out desires that run contrary to God's will (not our skin and bones, but the heart within us that desires its own comfort and satisfaction above all else) - this part wants to use everything at hand to supply desires peculiar to itself.

In marriage it is not uncommon for the husband and wife to share similar long term goals and ambitions, but more often than not, they will have short term goals and ambitions that have nothing to do with their spouse. The husband wants a new electronic gadget, the wife, a new bathroom. Arguments ensue.

Division of Labour
The flesh is willing to labour, so long as it perceives that its labour will produce some benefit for itself.

In marriage a partner may well "endure" X in order to procure "Y" from their spouse. They are willing to cook, clean, and provide child care, or even just to groom - so long as there is hope that doing so will purchase some desired outcome.

The carnal couple determines who does what by haggling back and forth until both parties feel they are getting a fair return on their investment. If either party feels they are not getting a fair return arguments ensue.

Sex
Shame on you if you skipped the preceding points just to see what I had to say about intimacy in marriage.

Like everything else, if one is led by the old self, then physical intimacy is going to be about getting the best return on as limited an investment as possible. If one or both partners feels the return is not worth the effort, then they will withhold the goods until they can reach a more personally profitable agreement, and there will be much contention until they do. Their attitude will be, "Why should I make my spouse happy if I must do so at the expense of my own happiness?"

Walking in the Spirit
When I say "walking in the Spirit" I am not talking about a mystical experience. I am not talking about listening to voices, or waiting for spiritual "feelings" or any other weird and subjective thing that passes for spirituality in some circles. I am talking about conducting yourself in the contentment that comes from trusting God in all situations.

What does it mean to trust God in a situation? Does that mean that I sort of think of God, and affirm to myself that I "trust" Him? Do I work myself up into a sort of trusting frenzy whereby I make sure I have the "trusting" feeling - and once I locate that feeling I know I have "trusted" God, and then wait for a mystical contentment to find me to prove I really did trust God? No. Nothing flaky like that.

It means that I recognize that God is with me in all things if I am His child. It means that I trust that God's provision is not merely sufficient for my needs, but so perfect a provision that it is better than my own ideas about what I need.

Unless I truly trust that what God supplies is in fact better than anything I might desire, or any outcome I might desire, I will never find be content; I will always seek to provide something better for myself and no matter how successful I am, I will never find lasting contentment in the return for my effort.

With Money
Unless I trust in God's provision, I shall attempt to provide for myself, and no matter how full I become, I shall always desire larger barns and more to put in them.

Division of Labour
Unless I trust in God's way is the best for me, i.e. that I am a slave put here to serve others, and not to concern myself whatsoever with who serve me and how they serve - then I shall seek to be served according to my own pleasures that ultimately can never be fully satisfied, and whatever happiness I manage to mine from others serving me, will never completely satisfy me, so that I will ever seek to be served in greater capacity.

Physical Intimacy
Unless I trust that selflessly serving my spouse (as the Lord commands) is the only path to genuine joy, I am going to pursue something less, and whatever "success" I have will be pale and shallow compared to what God intended.

In General
Listen: I know a lot of Christians are confused about what it means to walk in the Spirit, and worse are so messed up theologically that the only reason they want to walk in the Spirit is because they hope that in doing so they will experience something that can assure them that they are genuinely saved. That is, they see the command to walk in the Spirit as a burden, something they will get around to once they "learn to stop sinning" - and they miss out on the abundant life that God supplies, all because they were trying to grab that same life through their own effort, at their own pace.

In Practice
I will give one example only, and that quite narrow, since I will only address the men; but out of this example I hope that the serious reader will be able to extrapolate many other applications.

I would speak to you husbands for whom intimacy in marriage is waning. Whether you find yourself going days, weeks, or months without intimacy, the advice I offer, I hope will find you open to instruction.

First, the problem isn't that your wife isn't "performing her duty" in the marriage bed, that is just the symptom. The problem is that you are not loving your wife as Christ loved the church, giving yourself for her. To that end, do not focus on trying to jumpstart your lack of intimacy, rather drive yourself (with all fervency!) to perform your duty: the one that takes place outside the marriage bed.

Don't concern yourself with your wife's apparent "frigidity" as though she was primarily the problem. Maybe she is, even if she is, that has nothing to do with you providing that your wife knows the Lord; for to her own Master she stands. In other words, worry about your own walk and let God worry about hers.

Try to remember that your wife left the protection of her father's house to be joined to your house, and that she never would have done so unless she believed at some point that you would provide for her at the very least, as selflessly as her own family would. Not just financially, but in every aspect of life - whatever you deny her, ask yourself if her own family would have done so. This I say, only to help you judge fairly how poorly you are providing for her. As yourself, are you surpassing her father's love and provision, or are you demanding she put up with the pittance you dish out at your leisure? Are you lavishing her daily with proof of your commitment to her and her happiness so that she rests perfectly secure and happy to be part of your family, or are you angry at her for not being satisfied with whatever crumbs fall from the plate of your own self focus, and self serving life?

Trust me when I say that while your flesh may crave physical pleasure, and while the desire may at times threaten to consume you, the truth is what you truly want is to feel loved by your wife. Whatever physical desire manifests itself in your life, what drew you to your wife in marriage was the earnest desire that she accept and love you. You do remember that, I trust.

Ask yourself therefore, do you really think that complaining will bring about this same earnest desire you married her to receive?

Now consider not so much -what- God has called you to do, but try considering instaed for a while -why- He called you to do that. Why does God calls you to love your wife like Christ loved the church? Why ought you to give yourself for her? If you think long and hard on it, I trust that you will see that God is only commanding you to do the very thing that your wife needs you to do in order to draw near to you with her heart.

Because we are blinded by sin and not our intellect, we might accept these things in our heads, and deny them in our hearts. Guard your heart therefore Christian husband against applying this advice superficially, or as a means to an end. If you seek to please God in all things, whatever the outcome you come to, it will be the best outcome possible. If you seek yourself and your own goals, whatever outcome you receive, will be pointless and empty, fading, and pregnant with poverty.

If you are not a husband suffering from a lack of intimacy in your marriage, then apply this example thus: God's way is perfect, you cannot improve upon it by adding to it, or taking anything away from it. Trusting God means trusting that God's commands are for our benefit and not a kill joy. Be willing to do God's will, not begrudgingly as one who is whipped into service, but eagerly, as the servant whose master commands them to partake of the feast.

Labels: ,

posted by Daniel @ 11:12 AM  
2 Comments:
  • At 6:53 AM, September 12, 2010, Blogger M.A.C. said…

    Letting the chips fall, interesting post and with insight into the writing process. Perhaps you can go one step further and explain the motivation behind the ten different versions that all explain what you are trying to say only using different words.

    I think it has to do with internalizing it for ourselves so that we might understand that which we would express. Similar to telling someone your testimony and why you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the more you tell it, the more natural it becomes.

     
  • At 7:14 AM, September 12, 2010, Blogger Daniel said…

    M.A.C. - typically what happens, and this was the case this time also, is I begin to write about the topic at hand, and end up getting so bogged down in the details that I feel it would be easier to start over than to try and write my way back into the generalities.

    So I start over, and do the same thing over and over again until I either am able to express the main point without getting bogged down in the details, or I am able to express the details without bogging down the post.

    My main literary goals in writing are, in order of importance, accuracy and precision. By "precision" here I'm referring to the removal of ambiguity - the less ambiguous a thing is the more precise it is. A single verse, pulled from scripture (for example) is perfectly accurate, but often ambiguous when presented out of context. Reducing the ambiguity of a text or idea is probably the most labour intensive part of my writing, and the main reason why so many posts are never posted.

    I agree with you that the more you chew on something, the better you get at describing it to others. A thing that is known deeply, is something that is far easier to express.

     
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